Feature Article

June 20, 2013

Negative Smartphone Shopping Experiences Really Turning People Off, Skava Survey Finds

The headlines tend to be filled with all of the excitement that seems to surround the convenience of using our smartphones when we are shopping. This includes not just comparing the pricing of items, but also gaining product specs, looking up reviews, seeing all of the options that might be available from a given vendor but are not in the physical store we are in, and sending photos to friends. Indeed, smartphones are becoming almost indispensible parts of our shopping experiences. 

However, despite their growing popularity as tools to help us shop, this does not mean that the use of our personal devices is all a bed of roses. Skava, a San Francisco-based provider of next-generation multi-channel e-Commerce solutions to retailers, was more than a bit curious about the trials and tribulations we encounter in using our smartphones when shopping and how it impacts our buying behavior. It had Harris Interactive conduct a study of 2,085 U.S. adults aged 18 and over about their experience when shopping on smartphone, and the results may surprise you.

In love with smartphones but not in ‘like’ with the mobile shopping experience 

The big headlines here are:

  • 71 percent of respondents said they used their mobile devices when they were shopping
  •  88 percent of those who shop with their smartphones, disturbingly, say the experiences fail to be satisfactory
  • 30 percent say that after a negative experience they will never come back again
  • 33 percent after a bad experience will defect
  • 36 percent will abandon the purchase altogether   

Skava has put together a really nice series for infographics to illustrate the finds of its survey as shown in the section of one infographic below.


Source: Skava Mobile Shopping Survey, click here for complete view.

Other key results from the survey should also serve as a warning given the percentages.

When asked about their biggest pain points when shopping on mobile, mobile shoppers responded as follows:

  • 51 percent said retailers’ websites are harder to navigate and use on a mobile device than on a desktop
  • 46 percent responded that product images are too small to make buying decision
  • 41 percent expressed concerns over security on their smartphone
  • 26 percent said that the check-out process was a pain 

There were other challenges revealed in the study that deserve retailers’ attention. These included concerns over data usage costs, difficulties in adding coupon codes and mobile website speed.  And, in a case where perception becomes reality, shoppers also indicated a belief that products are more expensive on a mobile website. Plus, a sizable percentage said they had concerns over clicking the wrong buttons when making purchases. 

"The sudden rise in the number of visitors accessing retailer’s websites from mobile took many retailers by surprise, and they quickly created a mobile site as a first response. But the initial bounce rates were high and conversion rates low, leaving many retailers thinking that people didn’t have an appetite to buy from mobile," said Arish Ali, Skava co-founder and president.

“It isn’t just about putting a mobile website out there – it is about building an experience that is easy for customers to use and takes into consideration the unique attributes of mobile devices,” Ali says. “Achieving significant conversion rates on mobile is possible. Amazon, a constant threat to traditional retailer, generated $4 billion in sales through mobile last year.”

 As noted above, Skava conducted the survey in order to gain insight into the American user experience when shopping on a smartphone, as a tool for them in helping their retail customer understand the serious implications that negative experiences can have on their business. Those percentages of people who would never return, said they would defect to a competitor or abandoned ship, along with a finding that 29 percent would wait six months to give a retailer a second chance, should be sobering to say the least. 

Ali continues: “Skava works with some of the biggest retailers in America who typically generate in excess of $1 billion in online sales. Nearly 13 percent of their traffic is coming from smartphones, so for them achieving optimal conversion rates through this channel is crucial to their bottom line. Retailers need to create a unique, mobile optimized navigation to navigate a customer to their desired product as quickly as possible. Once there, you then must create a product page that the consumer feels confident buying from and then check out must be a breeze.”

The bottom line, as they say, is the bottom line. Customers are clearly having experiences that are less than they bargained for.   With all of the hype surrounding smartphone utility in creating better shopping experiences, the numbers seem to indicate that retailers clearly are not designing the customer experience to be optimized on the small screen. And, as the numbers also show, by not meeting customer expectations, retailers are thereby losing sales and damaging their brand reputation in the process.  

A mobile online shopping experience is very different than one from a PC or laptop. The survey hopefully indicates with some sense of urgency that retailers had best pay attention to designing the best mobile shopping experience because, in a world where negative reviews can go viral, the stakes are high and obtaining or regaining customer loyalty because of the Internet megaphone is increasing hard.




Edited by Alisen Downey


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